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On big day for Monsanto, EU puts off glyphosate ruling

EU members have failed to agree on glyphosate's future in the bloc. Uncertainty continues over whether the controversial weed killer causes cancer.

With the Monsanto's glyphosate license in the EU set to expire, members put off a decision on continued use of

the potent herbicide,

marketed as Roundup. Glyphosate, one of the world's most commonly used active ingredients in weed killers, works by inhibiting the growth of unwanted plants in farming and domestic and urban environments.

A 2015 World Health Organization study identified glyphosate as

a probable carcinogen.

A more recent study by the WHO and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization

found otherwise.

However, watchdogs have criticized the second study because the chairman of the joint meeting leads an institute that received a six-figure donation from Monsanto, which produces glyphosate and several controversial genetically modified products.

The European Food Safety Authority, the EU's industry watchdog, has not identified a risk of cancer. Still, scientists have found that glyphosate poses

a serious risk to biodiversity.

If no decision is made by June 30 and the European Commission chooses not to weigh in, glyphosate will no longer be authorized within the EU.

Deutschland München Umweltinstitut testet 14 Biere auf Glyphosat

A recent study found that popular brands of German beer were practically bubbling with the herbicide

'No assurance'

The lack of a decision could help Monsanto as news has emerged that Bayer, the pharma leviathan from Leverkusen, was considering

merging with the US agrigiant.

Still, Monsanto has announced that there was "no assurance" that any transaction would be "entered into or consummated." Bayer confirmed that executives from the two companies had met to "privately discuss" a merger, though no potential purchase price was published.

Such a merger could face resistance from antitrust regulators. According to The Wall Street Journal, the two companies would together account for around 28 percent of global sales of pesticides and herbicides.

Requesting anonymity, EU diplomats told news agencies that German officials were among those unwilling to come to a decision on further use of glyphosate. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats favor renewing the glyphosate license, but their Social Democrat coalition partners oppose keeping the herbicide around, citing its potentially carcinogenic effects.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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